I stumbled over my shopping cart last Saturday when I saw shelves competing for my retail attention—beautifully displayed decorations for every national holiday between Christmas and Fourth of July. How do they do it?
I keep believing I’ll be prepared for the next season of life—just like the local craft stores . . . Hobby Lobby . . . Michael’s . . . any store that is months ahead of the game. One year ago, we were swamped: between two birthdays, Halloween or fall festival (I don’t want to offend anyone), and Thanksgiving, we decided to throw in my daughter’s wedding just for kicks.
“Why not?” I valiantly announced on more than one occasion.
“Next year, I am going to have everything organized! A place for everything and everything in its place!” (Almost crest-worthy . . . HANG the FLAG!) But we quickly rolled up the “Welcome 2015” red carpet, cleaned up the place, kids moved out, life moved in, and BAMO! It’s almost Thanksgiving already?
So what do we do when it’s suddenly a new holiday season and life doesn’t match the store display?
It’s Not What You Think
Soul growth tends to spring up out of the stubborn soil of far more untimely, unwelcomed, unkind circumstances. In fact, we learn in the midst of hard times not to run but to dig . . . to dig deep and trust that the Maker of the wind and rain will also provide shelter and peace and hope and we need not fear.
I’m learning to live life on life’s terms, not mine—to look for the bigger picture. The bigger picture often hides under layers of wishful thinking; it’s certainly not purchased at the craft store. It takes faith to hunt for something when it’s not in front of our eyes screaming for our attention. Faith isn’t “seeing to believe” that God will come through on His word, but it’s believing God has our best in mind whether or not we see that today, tomorrow, or during life on this earth.
God chose a stable for His own Son’s birth and a cross for His Son’s burial ground—not what I would have pictured as God’s wonderful will. But Christ’s life and death was required so that we have eternal hope today—a beautiful plan of God’s glorious grace and abounding love. I like that picture.
Maybe it’s time to hack the holiday pressure and hunt for the big picture. Rest assured, these hacks are not displayed in the decorating aisle; they are found in the nitty-gritty grind of daily life. These are tools for hunting down what really is important, what gives peace and hope regardless of life at this moment. I can’t live without putting these into practice every day.
How to Hunt for the Bigger Picture during the Holidays
1. PRAY intensely, earnestly, confidentially, continually! In the car, in the shower, as you cook, as you lead, as you follow . . . pour out your soul to our Lord.
2. PURSUE the truth: dig into God’s Word for help . . . I mean dig deep. Search the Scriptures, devouring it like a starving animal, and seek His guidance. His way is right, His Word is true, and it will never guide you wrong.
3. Watch for PITFALLS. We are endlessly distracted, relentlessly judgmental, habitually self-consumed. If anything captivates your time and attention more than following God’s will, you have too much time on your hands.
4. PICK your battles, and ask yourself:
- In light of God’s grace and mercy, is this really important?
- If I were to die today, would this matter?
- Is this worth dying for?
Choose your battles wisely.
5. PRACTICE thankfulness: make a note and keep a list of all that God’s provided. Can you smell, see, think, walk, talk, move, breathe, imagine, create? These are all gifts from God, not rights. Become a person marked by thankfulness. Appreciate the smallest ability. Be kind and helpful, grateful, and flexible, one who’s quick to listen rather than be heard.
Let Me Hear from You
However you come to this today, I care. I care about what you are living through. Would you let me know which one or two of these tools has helped you in some way? I would love to hear what one or two practices you are choosing to focus on in the days and weeks ahead. Let’s enter the next season looking to find the big picture together.
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